Hey, guys. I’m sorry Roger couldn’t get it done today, but don’t despair. It has been a fairytale year and although the ending wasn’t peRFect, it was very positive. I was at work today while the match was being played, but Jonathan kept me updated once more and I lived through some of the emotions of it. At first this loss stung, but it wasn’t long before I got perspective over it and felt better. As a Fedfan, I have high expectations and hoped Roger could end the year in the PeRFect fashion. That is the problem with expectations. If they don’t materialize disappointment sets in. I guess I never learn.
But like I said the disappointment was short lived. The biggest reason I felt better was the way in which Roger lost. This is the key. It was an extremely positive loss because the match was on his racquet. He broke Djokovic to love in his opening service game and consolidated for a 3-0 lead. Amazing. Yet he could not hold onto the break as Djokovic broke back at 3-1. At 4-4 Djokovic then took the initiative as he broke Roger. Djokovic was going to serve for the first set. He could not consolidate however as Roger break him after a lengthy baseline rally. The first set then came down to a tie-break where Djokovic got the first mini-break to take a 2-0 lead.
Roger broke right back though with a GOAT backhand down the line winner. It was one of those shots where time stood still for a second and you got lost in the pure beauty of it. Moving ahead now to 5-6 in the breaker and Roger serving to stay in it. Djokovic has Roger stretched to his limits at the net after a passing shot, but Roger comes up with a genius drop volley which Djokovic runs down. Roger then makes the pass. 6-6. Unfortunately, Roger then sprays a backhand wide which gives Djokovic set point, and Djokovic then wins the first set with an inside-out forehand winner. One feels it was a shame that he lost the set after being up 3-0, but the match wasn’t over.
Roger just needed to win the second set and things would be back on level terms. He goes on to break Djokovic in the opening game of the second set after Djokovic steers a backhand down the line wide. Roger then consolidates and once again he has the advantage in the set. He holds serve until 5-4 where he would serve for the set. He looks confident too, having hit a scary drop shot in the previous game. He takes a 30-0 lead in the game and even produces 2 sets points. Yet he fails to convert and Djokovic breaks back. With that he loses the momentum and Djokovic breaks again at 6-5 to win the match.
So what does all of this mean? Nothing much. Just that Roger lacked the confidence to win the important points. I said yesterday that he needs to win the important points. He failed to do that and that is why he lost. Simple as that. It is not because he wasn’t good enough or anything like that. He was after all in winning positions in both sets. The match was definitely on his racquet, but he let it slip. Again I attribute this to a lack of confidence. Why? Because he has struggled with confidence since the US Open. He clawed his way back in the indoor season but stumbled over the final hurdle.
It was asking too much to come off a loss in the Basel final to beat Murray and Djokovic consecutively. So all in all I am delighted with how things worked out. Sure I would have loved it if he won today, but he showed me he is right up there with Djokovic. There really is nothing between them. And what more can you ask from someone who is 31 years old now? In fact, it’s not even necessary to mention the age thing anymore. Roger is a timeless player. It’s a mistake to measure him by years lived because he is the exception to every rule. Like I said, he is right up there with the best player in the world.
If Roger had more time to regain his confidence after the US Open there is no doubt in my mind he would have won this match. Simply because the match was on his racquet. So there is nothing whatsoever wrong with his tennis. It is right there. That is why I say this was a very positive loss. He is right back at that level that saw him win Wimbledon, regain the #1 ranking, and win 5 other titles. So I really can’t ask for more. I was a bit worried about his form after the US Open and the fact that he lost the #1 ranking, but I now feel very optimistic about his 2013 season. I was worried that he was starting to lose that Roger 3.0 status, but I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Roger will of course not play the exho in Abu Dhabi over the New Year, and there are rumors that he won’t return to Doha either. I think that would be a wise decision. After his showing this week, he doesn’t need any tour matches before Melbourne. He needs a rest first of all and then some time on the practice court. That would be the peRFect preparation for the first slam of the year. The early rounds will be enough to get him match fit again. That is the upside of what he achieved this week. His confidence is high enough now that he doesn’t need to play a warm up event to Melbourne. He can just show up there and start as one of the heavy favorites for the title.
Let me just say something about his win against Murray which I left out in my last post as well. That was the crucial win really. He couldn’t afford a third straight loss to Murray after the Olympics and Shanghai. The head-to-head would have slipped to 7-10 and instead it is now 8-9. Roger ends the year with a 3-2 winning record over Murray then and a 2-3 losing record against Djokovic. It is clear after today that Djokovic was the best player of 2012, that Roger was the second best, and that Murray was the third best. But these three are now very close together at the top. Nadal has a lot of work to do if he ever wants to get in contact with them again.
So 2013 will be fought out between these three players. Then it will also be interesting to see what Nadal and Del Potro does. There are five very good players who promise to make 2013 another epic year in tennis. How fast do things change? Just a few days ago it looked like Fedal was over and done with and that 2013 will belong to Djokovic and Murray. Yet with his last minute heroics Roger 3.0 played himself right back into the fray and will be one hell of a force to be reckoned with once again in 2013. There is just no stopping this GOAT and neither is there stopping me as a blogger. Here we come 2013!